Washington Nationals: New Stadium, New Year, Underrated Team

Dwight Townsend-GrayContributor IMarch 8, 2008

Last year some critics wrote off the Washington Nationals saying, "they would be the worst team in the history of baseball."

Well those critics were dead wrong.

The Nationals, who needed 120 losses to achieve the infamous position from the Mets of prior, didn't come close. They did not even lose 100 games, nor did they lose 90.

Rookie manager Manny Acta turned his team from a disastrous 9-25 start to a fourth place finish. Not only that, they ended up with the same exact record from last year.

This year they are projected to finish fifth in the N.L. East.

Well, lets look at some facts.

The new stadium—I've had the privilege to see the stadium’s ins and outs and, let me tell you, it's nice. This team will be vamped up when they get to play in the nicest stadium around. It gives a big boost to the team.

Another fact is that the Nats have had an interesting off-season. They've acquired a few promising players.

First is Lastings Milledge. This kid has a lot of potential. He had a very good season in the bigs last year, and has been ripping it up in preseason. This kid has what it takes and he knows it. He'll be an excellent addition to the Nationals outfield; moreover they're lineup, most likely taking the lead off spot. He's got a nice bat and some killer wheels attached. Acta has a good player in Milledge.

Second: Elijah Dukes. Now yes this player has had some troubles in the past, but haven't we all. He knows that this is his last shot, and he's come to play. This club is the place for last shots. The name's Dmitri Young, people. He’s the turn-around player of the year. Dukes has a good role model. Plus he looks good out on the field. Another weapon in the growing Nats arsenal.

Then you have Willy Mo Pena. Yes we acquired him last year, but now we get to see some real action of him. We saw some nice action out of him last year. He's got power and speed. He's also pretty nice to have defend your right field.

Christian Guzman—this guy is back—power, speed, defense, and a positive attitude.

What more do you want people?

Pitchers—this staff is underrated. When healthy, it's a good one.
Patterson and Hill at the top, with three fine pitchers below them. Not too shabby if you ask me.

Rauch as your set-up man—he just mows people down. He had the most appearances and wins by a Nat last year.  He's good, and a little known fact, he's got a gold medal. So there’s another underrated piece to the puzzle.

And then there’s is Manny Acta. A good manager, with great ethics. He's done a wonderful job with "the worst team in history," and will continue to do so this year.

This team has got the pieces. Now I'm not saying they're going to the World Series, but I would watch out, whoever is in third place.